SLAVE BILL OF SALE Mississippi Slavery Document 1815
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SLAVE BILL OF SALE Mississippi Slavery Document 1815 Picture and Description:
AMAZING, ORIGINAL 1815 MISSISSIPPI SLAVE BILL OF SALE. This terrific, early 19th century manuscript was penned on March 6th, 1815, and records the sale of a slave in Amite County, Mississippi Territory. Chilling language describes the sale of "a Negro man named Gary thirty six years old of sound body & mind." The seller, James Smylie, for "the sum of six hundred dollars...bargained, sold and delivered...said negro" to the buyer, Thomas Cotten of Natchez, Mississippi. This is a particularly early slave transaction recorded two years prior to Mississippi statehood. Mississippi Slavery dates to the early 18th century when France controlled the lower-Mississippi River Valley. In 1712, there were about 20 enslaved Africans in the region as well as a larger number of enslaved Indians. The first large importation of enslaved blacks into the Mississippi territory came in 1719, when 500 enslaved Africans, imported from the coast of Guinea to Dauphin Island, were dispersed to landholders. By 1732, the black population had increased to more than 2,000. Recognizing the need to control the lives of enslaved blacks and preserve the security of their colonial holdings, the French passed a set of legal stipulations known as the Code Noir [Black Code] in 1724, which was kept in force with few changes until 1803. The Code Noir in some ways was more humane than later American laws. For example, slaves were allowed to marry and were given the right to testify against whites with the exception of their owners. Husbands and wives could not be sold separately; nor could a child, younger than age 14, be sold away from his or her mother. Christian blacks could be buried in consecrated ground. At the same time, the French introduced some extremely barbaric measures to punish wayward blacks. The Code Noir called for cropping ears, branding, and the hamstringing of runaways. Similar punishments would reappear in 19th century American slave laws. The white and black population of Mississippi continued to grow after France ceded its colony to Spain in 1762 as immigrants from the American colonies flocked to the promising agricultural slave-labor frontier. In 1798, the Mississippi territory came under American control, and a comprehensive set of statutes was passed to regulate the enslaved laborers, encompassing in the process such issues as manumission, crime, the carrying of weapons, freedom of assembly, and protection of slaves from cruel or unusual punishment. One statute, for example, made it illegal to import slaves from outside the United States. Over time, the statutes, under state law, became increasingly more specific, detailing how, for example, disobedient slaves were to be punished [a whipping of 39 lashes became a standard form of punishment]. Slave patrols were established in 1811 in response to an uprising of slaves in nearby Louisiana. By 1819, fearful of importing rebellious and difficult-to-handle enslaved blacks, Mississippi required slave traders to certify that their enslaved charges were men and women of good character. More and more settlers from the upper South began flocking to the dark, rich alluvial soils of Mississippi after Andrew Jackson's defeat of the Creek Indians in 1814. The state's cotton economy boomed in the 1820s as large numbers of slaves were imported to work the cotton fields. From 1810 to 1820, the enslaved population on the Mississippi frontier grew by more than 90 percent. By 1830, the slave population rose to nearly 66,000 persons. Between 1830 and 1840, Mississippi's white population grew by a whopping 154 percent, while the state's slave population grew by 197 percent. Good soil and Mississippi's slave labor force made the state's economic growth possible. By 1860, Mississippi had become the nation's leading cotton state with a production of 1.2 million bales. Most of Mississippi's enslaved blacks were brought by force to the state from the upper South. A declining plantation economy in the upper South based on tobacco resulted in a large surplus of enslaved people in Virginia and Maryland. Mississippi and other rapidly growing lower-South states offered a ready marketplace for the excess slaves, the sale of which helped planters in the upper South remain solvent. During the last decade of slavery more than a 250,000 enslaved blacks--some 60 percent of the upper-South's enslaved population--were exported from Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina to the cotton kingdom states of the southwest frontier. Many of these enslaved people were carried to or passed through Mississippi. While some enslaved blacks migrated with their owners in search of more productive land, many were sold to professional slave traders who herded groups of enslaved people in caravans--called coffles--southward. Enslaved blacks--often separated from their families--were either transported by foot to Mississippi or by ship to New Orleans. Many of the blacks who traveled by land walked the Natchez Trace, a well-worn path used by Indians and pioneers during the prior century. Roped together or chained up with iron padlocks, the enslaved people trudged sometimes 20 to 25 miles a day. For many, their destination was The Forks-of-the-Road slave market, in Natchez, Mississippi, one of the busiest slave markets in the lower South. Enslaved blacks that ended up in Mississippi found life on the southern frontier cruel, rough, and deadly. Frequent yellow fever and cholera epidemics threatened the lives of both white and black Mississippians. One female Mississippi slaveholder wrote that "the negroes die off every few years"...it was a "sickly country." The life expectancy for a 20-year-old black male in Mississippi in 1850 was 37 years, while white males could expect to live two years longer. Infant mortality rates among black children were alarmingly high and more than double that of the white population. Those enslaved blacks that survived the hardships of the coffle and life on the southwest frontier led a tightly regulated life with few if any personal freedoms allowed. Slave laws passed between 1798 and 1857 kept a tight leash on the enslaved population. In 1822, a comprehensive slave code with some 86 statutes was passed governing nearly every aspect of slave life. Enslaved blacks were declared the personal property of their masters--similar to animals and tools--and were prohibited from trading goods, cultivating their own cotton, or consuming liquor. The numerous statutes on runaways and slave patrols indicate lawmakers faced an ongoing problem in controlling the state's slave population. The fact that enslaved blacks outnumber whites in the 1850s, along with the raging attack on slavery by northern abolitionists, made white Mississippians especially fearful of uprisings. In response to the Virginia-based rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831, a number of slave importing states, including Mississippi, took measures to put a stop to the slave trade as a means of keeping out undesirable and potentially rebellious slaves. Mississippi temporarily outlawed the slave trade between 1833 and 1847. The prohibition against slave trading did little, however, to stop slave traders from selling their human wares in the state. When the slave trade became legal again in 1847, Mississippi legislators took additional measures to regulate the trade, demanding that slave traders be carefully policed. Like in other southern states, emancipation became increasingly more difficult over time in Mississippi. Fearing a class of free blacks who might conspire with enslaved blacks, the state barred manumission by will in 1842. Lawmakers also made it clear that free blacks were unwelcome by prohibiting their immigration into the state. Offenders would be sold into slavery. Over time the free black population in Mississippi dwindled. In 1840 there were nearly 1,200 free blacks residing in the state. Twenty years later the number of free blacks had declined to 773. Though not encouraged to make their home in Mississippi some free blacks thrived for a time in the state. William Johnson, a free black barber prospered in Natchez during the 1800s, and at times socialized with whites. Johnson, a slave owner himself, kept a detailed diary of his life in Natchez between 1835 and 1851, providing thereby a fascinating glimpse into the life of this vibrant slave-based community. On the eve of the Civil War Mississippi ranked as the third largest slaveholding state in the nation with nearly 437,000 slaves. The large number of enslaved people living in the state, representing slightly more than half of Mississippi's total population, was a direct result of the area's highly successful cotton production, the steady westward migration of the nation's population, and a system of laws designed to police, regulate, and control enslaved people as the personal property of their owners. Though slavery officially came to an end in Mississippi when the state fell to Union forces during the Civil War, remnants of the system remained in place well into the twentieth century. Following the Reconstruction period when blacks achieved some political and economic power under Federal occupation, Mississippi legislators quickly passed a series of codes that segregated the races and eventually disfranchised black voters--laws that served to maintain the supremacy of the white race while limiting the opportunities available to blacks. This period is commonly known as the Jim Crow era. Condition: Rare manuscript document remains in fair condition [see images]. Document separated along horizonal folds resulting in four fragmented pieces; needing repair with archival tape. Some toning, scattered foxing, bottom edge torn, ink remains bold and legible through. Document measures approx 8" wide x 10" tall. Quite a find and a very worthy acquisition indeed. Shipping and Payment: Please see our feedback and bid with confidence. For international shipping quote, please contact us. Massachusetts residents must add 6.25% sales tax or include dealer tax resale number. Payment must be received within 7 days after close of auction. Never a reserve and very low opening bid as always. Thanks for your interest! Please Note: We will be away until January 15th, after which time winning bidders will be notified and items will be shipped. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! boysells store